NEW YORK — The Port Authority and FBI have determined there was nothing criminal at play in an incident that caused a flight from Indianapolis to deplane on the tarmac at LaGuardia Airport Saturday in New York.
But as the possible emergency was happening, it was a tense situation for passengers, including a Zionsville woman who was on that flight with her husband and 7-year-old son.
The Bergdoll's fall break started off normal. The Zionsville family of three boarded Republic Airways Flight 4817 in Indianapolis, excited to visit New York City, where Laura and Jon spent their honeymoon. But at the end of their flight, Laura said she knew something wasn't right.
"Our landing was fairly quick, so there wasn't a lot of the announcements like you normally get [like], 'Hey, we're about to land,' flight attendants saying 'Please prepare for arrival' — none of that," Laura said. "As we're landing, there's a lot of beeps. There's a bunch of those right as we're landing, and I'm like, that doesn't sound good. The moment the plane stopped, we hear over the intercom, 'Evacuate, evacuate. Get out. Get out!' Oh, it was terrifying."
The Bergdolls were seated in the back of the plane, so Laura said they didn't realize other passengers had reported suspicious behavior from a man onboard.
The Port Authority said the man became unruly, and another passenger thought he had a device on the plane, so the pilot asked for an emergency landing.
The Bergdolls had to slide down the emergency exits and deplane on the tarmac at LaGuardia, where police converged on the aircraft. That's when Laura started recording video on her cellphone, which she posted on Twitter.
"I hear a Port Authority fireman go, 'Is this him?' And I hear somebody say, 'I think, yes,' and that's where they grab him and put him to the ground and are telling us 'go, move, go, go,'" Laura said.
The man, seen in the video being held down by firefighters, has since been released from custody.
The FBI said he did not have a suspicious device, did nothing criminal and will face no charges. The emergency was caused by an apparent misunderstanding.
While police investigated Saturday, passengers — including the Bergdolls — waited on buses and then in the American Airlines lounge. Eventually, the family got to start their vacation — with quite a story as a souvenir.
"We were at the Empire State Building, and someone said, 'Where are you from?' And we said, 'Indiana,' and they go, 'Were you on the plane?!'" Laura said. "My son, John, he had a vacation he's never going to forget. That's one way to look at it!"